Against Planned Highway Across Serengeti
I admit that an article by Chambi on The Citizen on Saturday of March 26, titled 'will Loliondo cure the Serengeti Road headache?' and some comments by Wanazuoni on the controversial proposed Serengeti Road have sent me behind my laptop to write. Currently there is a hot debate on the proposed controversial road through Serengeti National Park (SENAPA). In this debate I am against the intervention of Serengeti National Park ecosystem which is a renown world sanctuary and heritage site.
Also, I am fully aware and supportive of the need to improve the livelihoods of people in Mara Region (which to my opinion was supposed to be Serengeti Region), and enthusiastic about plans for construction of tarmac roads to link Loliondo with Arusha, and Mugumu with Musoma.
The people around National Parks are the first conservators and should thus be first beneficiaries of the parks in which they are stewards. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) and Hon Augustine Mrema, the chair of the Parliamentary Local Authorities Audit Committee (LAAC), are probably better positioned to explain this from a practical point of view.
I am convinced that if this financial-cum-beneficiary challenge would be cleared in the system, then ‘the road supporters’ would have been the first to sign petitions against the proposed road.
If there is a basic way of informing the public on how many treasures have been channeled to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) then it is this: Tourism has contributed 17.2% in Tanzania 's GDP in the year 2009!
In comparison, the mineral sector, with all its detrimental effects on the environment, is only contributing less than 4%.
Every informed decision is always made after weighing out alternatives. For my part it will be irrational to put at stake tourism's contribution to the national economy, by disrupting animals' migratory route for the sake of connecting the people of Mara Region while there is an alternative route which will serve the same purpose.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitive Index have shown that the country is slowing down by twelve positions in attractiveness as tourist destination.
This was even before the world started the movement against the proposed road. Soon or later this will be reflected in Tanzanian National Parks' (TANAPA) books.
Global tourism is the leading sector in employment as Tanzania is ranked as country number one in Africa for natural beauties.
Instead of killing the only exciting animal migration route by constructing a ‘politically motivated’ highway it is time that the government direct efforts on maximizing full potential of tourism so as to make Tanzania a better tourist destination.
Tourism should be more competitive with the intention of increasing the country’s GDP.
The Serengeti ecosystem has been studied for more than 50 years and is well documented. These studies have indicated that the whole ecosystem depends on the impacts of this massive migration. So it is clear that the ecosystem itself will change completely if the migration disappears.
Perhaps, the Serengeti will be sent to the recycling bin and we will have it in libraries.
Animal migration from Serengeti to Masai Mara is a big sign that animals knows no colonial borders, and this is what is behind all the tourism in Tanzania and Kenya. The value attached to our diplomatic relations, interdependence, dignity and respect is beyond the 54 kilometers strip in Serengeti, which if the road passes through, will have a detrimental impact on both countries.
Human activities were behind the wiping out of parks in Mozambique and Angola and I think Tanzania should take a leaf from those countries for the betterment of its economy.
The fact that Serengeti is registered as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage site saves a lot on budget which is for marketing Tanzania as a tourist destination globally.
I call upon President Jakaya Kikwete to listen to the voice of Mwalimu Nyerere stating that the “survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to us all in Africa… In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife, we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure our children’s grandchildren will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.”
Source: An Earlier Version Appeared in The Citizen on Sunday (3 April 2011 P. 13)
Author: Cyril Akko is Accessible at firstname.lastname@example.org & +255783958936
Title: Adapted from Arusha Times' Serengeti Highway? No Way, All the Way